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Former Wingstop CEO hopes to grow salad drive-thrus into a healthy fast-food powerhouse

Former Wingstop CEO hopes to grow salad drive-thrus into a healthy fast-food powerhouse
Posted at 9:30 AM, Aug 12, 2022

The new CEO of Salad and Go has a plan for the drive-thru-only chain, and it includes an expansion that will bring cheap, healthy, tasty salads to people around the country.

In March, Charlie Morrison left his position as CEO of Wingstop after nearly a decade to head the much smaller Arizona-based Salad and Go. After joining the board of the drive-through salad chain in 2020, Morrison believed he could help the brand grow. Salad and Go announced him as its new CEO in July.

Here’s a look at the restaurant branding and a salad from the company’s Facebook page:

When Morrison became the CEO of Wingstop in 2012, the chain had 533 restaurants. Now, there are more than 1,700 locations. The chicken restaurant also reported same-store sales growth of 21.4% in 2020. It became a rare COVID-19 pandemic success story under his tenure.

Currently, Salad and Go has around 60 locations in Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. It just opened two additional locations in Texas cities within the last few weeks, and one more is coming to the city of Rowlett later this month.  The company is hoping to scale up to 90 stores by the end of 2022 and double that by the end of 2023.

The chain offers fresh salads and soups as well as wraps and breakfast burritos. Specialty beverages, like mango green tea and cucumber mint lemonade, are also made by the restaurant.

Here’s a look at a couple of the chain’s offerings from its Facebook page:

Morrison states that the chain’s mission is to “make fresh, nutritious food convenient and affordable for all.”

“Salad and Go is poised to answer an escalating demand for craveable, convenient and affordable food like no other,” Morrison told QSR Magazine. “I truly believe that this is the [quick-service restaurant] industry’s best-kept secret, and I’m dedicated to introducing the wonders of this brand to the world.”

A 40-ounce salad with chicken or tofu is just over $6 (add a couple more dollars for steak); 20-ounce beverages are $1.24.

“Salads have become so expensive, they’re only catering to people who can afford them,” Morrison told Forbes. “We want to change the game. Fast food doesn’t have to be cheap and bad. It can be healthy and high quality. But it takes a disruption of the supply chain and that is what we’re doing.”

He’s talking about the company’s commitment to shopping locally to keep costs low, plus the creation of a 110,000-square-foot food-production facility that prepares items and distributes them directly to stores.

The company is also known for its charitable works. The chain provides 4,000 salads weekly to those in need and holds fundraisers for various causes.

In a recent Facebook post about a new location, the restaurant shared that it combined training with philanthropy.

“All salads made during training were donated to A New Leaf, Paz de Cristo Community Center, and House of Refuge, Inc. to help those struggling with hunger, poverty, and homelessness,” Salad and Go posted.

Morrison believes that Salad and Go’s affordability and drive-thru convenience will continue to spur growth.

“We are going to dispel myths about salads not being affordable or easy or craveable,” Morrison told Forbes.

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